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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Czech mate: video-on-demand in Prague

In Czech Business Weekly, a reminder that not every tech or marketing evolution comes from the U S of A: Pavla Kozáková reports on a local experiment in video-on-demand online, profiling Ivo Lukačovič, who may be the Czech Republic’s answer to Mark Cuban.Lukcovic200563.jpgThe Czech Republic’s domestic online portal Seznam.cz is the top search engine rivals, besting even Google. Late in June, “the Seznam.cz portal will launch video-on-demand service Kinomania.cz, where users can for Kč 45 download a copy of a movie… for one day.” [The Beta version is up now.] [T]he company’s strategy is to stay local, adapting innovations for the Czech market, and there are no plans for international expansion for the next five years.” Lukačovič founded Seznam in 1995, after admiring Yahoo. “Despite Internet penetration in the Czech Republic being around 2% at the time, and while mostly students were using the portal, it started making money from advertisements almost overnight… “We’re a very local company and we want to stay as local as possible”… adding that the company’s strategy for the next five years is to take the best services or innovations available and adapt them for local conditions… Seznam, in cooperation with software distributor Alef Nula [launches] Kinomania, and its pilot version, at kinomania.cz, was launched May 17. Based on BitTorrent technology, which is commonly used on peer-to-peer (P2P) sites and allows users to download not only from the original kept on the server but also from other users, the Kinomania project lets clients legally download a film for viewing on a one-day basis.


The fee per download is Kč 45, a price comparable to… a video or DVD rental. “The success of the project depends on the choice of movies available,” Lukačovič said, pointing out that if the selection is limited to B-quality movies, Kinomania will be doomed… Alef Nula is in charge of the copyrights negotiations with the distributors, and so far kinomania.cz [has] over 40 films on the Web, including the Czech blockbuster comedy Snowboarders… Seznam asks clients to use its own payment system – seznam peněženka (e-wallet). Seznam launched the e-wallet this January, enabling users to deposit from Kč 100 to Kč 10,000. Currently between 20,000 and 30,000 clients use e-wallet. “We aren’t considering broadening the ways in which customers can pay for the movie,” Lukačovič said, pointing out that in order to keep the film rentals cheap the transaction fees must be minimal. Kinomania was also granted a Kč 25 million subsidy from the Ministry of Informatics as a part of the ministry’s program to support broadband penetration. Part of the sum is still pending the approval of the European Commission in June.” [Photo: Czech Business Weekly.]

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch